BY JOE ANUTA
Finally, some good news for The Shops at Atlas Park.
Borders, a nationwide chain of booksellers, recently filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection and announced last Thursday that it would be closing 200 stores across the country but will spare the location at the shops at 80-00 Cooper Ave.
In a statement, Borders Group cited lackluster customer spending, ongoing discussions with publishers and a lack of liquidity as the reasons for the bankruptcy.
For now, news that the behemoth bookseller avoided the axe at Atlas Park comes after several years of bad news for the troubled mall.
Opened by Damon Hemmerdinger in 2006, the mall with a $127 million mortgage was foreclosed on by the bank three years later.
In February 2009, operations of the bankrupt mall were turned over to lawyer Paul Millus, the court-appointed receiver.
The Shops were then bought at a Jan. 28 foreclosure auction for $54 million and will be run by Macerich, the owners of Queens Center Mall.
Millus, whose tenure as receiver will end Feb. 28 when Macerich is scheduled to take over, is happy the bookseller is staying.
“It’s always good to haveï»¿ a quality tenant like Borders,” he said. “Obviously, one would want a Borders.”
But he also conceded that the mall’s fate is not tied to the company’s.
“Could we survive without any particular tenant? I’d say sure,” Millus said. “The space itself is truly one of the best in the complex. I’m sure it would be very inciting to other tenants as [Macerich] moves forward.”ï»¿
“We are confident that with the protection afforded under Chapter 11 and with the support of employees, publishers, suppliers and creditors and the reading public, a successful reorganization can be achieved enabling Borders to emerge from the process as a stronger and more vibrant bookseller,” said Mike Edwards, president of the company, in a statement.
The shuttered stores were found to be underperforming, according to the statement.
But in a release published by the company listing the doomed stores, Borders Group said the closings were not final and stores could be added at any time.
Reach reporter Joe Anuta by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-260-4566.